After the launch of the country’s first indigenously built nuclear submarine, India has the “technical expertise and capability” to build nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and warships, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar has said.
“We have the technical expertise and capability to build nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and warships of global standards,” Kakodkar said on the sidelines of a function here last night.
“When the government asks us to build such ships, we will do it… we are confident that we can build even supply propelling energy for aircraft carriers,” he said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while launching the nuclear-powered submarine ‘INS Arihant’ last month, had said that government would be sanctioning development of more such submarines.
Kakodkar said India will aim to set up 40GWe Light Water reactors between 2012 and 2020 and for that “we had to go for international cooperation.”
“Once we do this, then the doubling of nuclear power generation capacity can be achieved through fast breeder reactors (FBRs) as these are important for our future thorium programme,” he said.
“We cannot afford to hasten the thorium programme and we have to go step by step to get to use the thorium for the next 200 years,” he said.
India is also planning to set up 20 units of indigenous 700 MW of pressurised heavy water (PHWR) type reactor and the Centre has already agreed in principle for four such units for which site and environment clearances have been done, Kakodkar said.
India has already developed 220MW, 540MW PHWR type nuclear reactors which are operating successfully and it is possible to have 20 units of 700 MW plants which can run with indigenous natural uranium as well as imported fuel, he said.
Since the uranium available in India could supply up to 10,000 MW of electricity, the ambitious 700MW PHWRs are part of the evolutionary development of indigenous design, Kakodkar said.
All these plant designs are export models and India has the equipment supply chain for these kind of reactors in place with its robust infrastructure, Kakodkar said, adding several countries have already shown interest to buy PHWRs from India.
The AEC Chairman, however, ruled out private sector participation in nuclear power programmes in the immediate future.
“It is a different ball game and cannot go the way Enron went. Here the issues of security and ‘insider threat’, fuel accountability are of great concern,” he said.
“Therefore, we are evolving design features to provide adequate security and this is a challenge. Under the international convention for physical protection, nuclear materials, all of these things, are important and India is a signatory to it,” Kakodkar said.
On financing of the nuclear power programme, Kakodkar said, “the state-owned nuclear power corporation is a cash rich company and joint ventures will be set up with NPCIL holding majority share.”
“For the next 10 to 15 years, finance is not a big issue. By that time nuclear power will become competitive and business will propel itself,” he said.